Escape From New York (1981)

Call Me Snake
Call me Snake It is 16 years in the future. The entire island of Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison run by the U.S. Police Force. It has a population of about 3,000,000 - including a few crazies and residents who refused to leave when it was turned into a prison (one of whom is a screwy cab driver played by Ernest Borgnine). There's a wall around it, the bridges have been mined and tunnels sealed. Then, Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists and crashed near the World Trade Center in 1997 and somebody has to go rescue the President (Donald Pleasence of Halloween) who was in an escape pod. Enter Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a most-wanted criminal offered freedom if he succeeds in rescuing Pleasence. Just to make sure he doesn't renege on the little agreement, an explosive is planted in his neck, set to go off if it isn't removed within 24 hours. So he lands his glider on the flat roof of one of the twin towers and the adventure begins...

Directed by John Carpenter, co-produced by Debra Hill, co-music by Carpenter.
Supporting Cast:
Lee Van Cleef, Season Hubley, Adrienne Barbeau of Swamp Thing, with other MonsterVision favorites Harry Dean Stanton and Isaac Hayes (as a gang leader driving a car with chandeliers for headlights).
99 minutes, rated R. Carpenter says he wrote it after visiting New York for the first time - I wonder what part he drove through? By the way, if the voice doing the intro narration sounds familiar, it's Jamie Lee Curtis, who was making Halloween 2 for Carpenter at the same time (cowritten by Carpenter & Hill but directed by someone else)

Escape From New York is available on video and DVD

"Escape From New York" is set in 1997 (sixteen years in the future at the time), and in 1999, Goldie Hawn (Kurt Russell's wife), costarred in a remake of "The Out-Of-Towners," a dark comedy about a couple whose trip to New York turns into a nightmare including at least one mugging, though costar Steve Martin was funnier in "Planes Train & Automobiles" and "The Man With Two Brains."

Of course Donald Pleasence isn't the only actor who played a flying President...remember Harrison Ford in Air Force One

Escape From Los Angeles (1996)

Call Me Plissken
Carpenter's sequel is Escape From Los Angeles (1996), in which an earthquake has turned southern California into an island and the U.S. Police Force has turned it into another maximum security prison for the latest President (Cliff Robertson), whose daughter has been kidnapped to L.A. by bad guys along with the code to a doomsday device the President has in orbit that can be used to zap the world's machines and electronics into useless lumps of metal.
This time, Snake has only 10 hours to complete his mission or die. Set 17 years in the future (2013), Snake has more contempt for the amoral President than for the Warden (Stacy Keach).
Gratuitous cameo by Peter Fonda. Cowritten by Carpenter, Hill and Kurt Russell. Pam Grier also makes an extended appearance. Directed & music by Carpenter. Rated R

Kurt Russell's next movie was "Grindhouse," directed by Quentin Tarantino; a unabashed Escape From New York fan who promised at Comicon 2006 that it would have violence, sexuality, a grinding beat, and an exotic dancer who mows down zombies with a machine gun in her leg. Or you could watch Al Gore's movie about global warming

CINEMA CONFIDENTIAL reported on 3-13-07 that "Gerard Butler, hot off his success from "300," will star in a remake of "Escape From New York" which will be produced by Neal Moritz. Ken Nolan is drafting the screenplay based on the John Carpenter film.
"The 1981 feature starred Kurt Russell and told of Snake Plissken, a one-eyed convict who is given the task to help free the U.S. president from a maximum security prison which used to be the island of Manhattan." (Variety)

Though known mostly for comedy, Kurt's wife Goldie Hawn starred in Steven Spielberg's first theatrical film "Sugarland Express" (1974), as a white-trash mom who steals her kid from Social Services and leads police in a cross country chase (it doesn't have a happy ending).
Also, she starred in "Foul Play" (1978), a comedy-thriller with Chevy Chase in which she stumbles onto a plot to assassinate the Pope.

That was followed with "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), reteaming her with Chase (as a goofball ex-hubby accuesed of bank robbery). The same year, she scored big with "Private Benjamin" as a self-centered woman who joins the Army and learns to be all she can be. "Swing Shift" (1984, set in World War 2) teamed her with husband Kurt Russell in a movie that was such a mess, the well-known writers used the sole pseudonym "Rob Morton."

They were re-teamed for the much better "Overboard" (1987), in which Russell got to play a "Captain Ron" type blowhard who saves self-centered heiress Goldie, who has amnesia thanks to a hit on the head that knocked her into the water off her yacht. He convinces her that they're married and director Garry Marshall throws in enough screwy gags to make it fun. Just when she's getting the knack of taking care of his four unruly brats, the tables are turned again.
Roddy McDowall and Katherine Helmond are also in it.
Her next movie was thriller "Bird On A Wire" (1990) with Mel Gibson, as a couple suddenly forced out of the Witness Protection Program and on the run from old enemies including David Carradine. Directed by John Badham of WarGames. Her best comedies so far are "Housesitter" with Steve Martin (directed by Frank Oz, the voice of Yoda in the Star Wars movies), and Death Becomes Her, a zombie/voodoo spoof with Meryl Streep (directed by Robert Zemeckis of Back To The Future), both movies made in 1992.

As previously mentioned in Monstervision review & host segments for "Big Trouble In Little China", Kurt Russell started out as a child actor in a TV series with Charles Bronson, before making a series of Kurt Russell movies for Disney (as a teen) and then John Carpenter.

John Carpenter movies page

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(click to play the movie trailer)
Parody film Escape Big Trouble In New Jersey (using clips and stuff from both films, there are some bad words)

Fun fact:
James Cameron of Terminator and Titanic fame made the 1981 sequel to Roger Corman's original 1978 version of Piranha. He also did Battle Beyond the Stars (1980, additional photographer, as Jim Cameron) and another MonsterVision classic, Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979, as production assistant, uncredited, and miniature constructor/designer). The following year he was matte artist and special effects director of photography on John Carpenter's Escape From New York. He originally wanted O.J. Simpson to star in Terminator, but decided no one would believe Simpson could kill anyone

Iran and North Korea are working on their own EMP (Elctro Magnetic Pulse) device similar to the one used to wipe out electronics in the movie Escape From Los Angeles. Such a device in orbit could wipe out all electronics and electrical devices in the U.S. including cars, planes, computers, cell phones, and the electrical grid itself, but it would cost at least $4 Billion a year to harden the electric grid against such an attack. As of 2005, neither had launched such a device over the US, yet.
At least that's what Jane says

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